Employee Networks

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How to Catalyze Innovation in Your Organization

The authors’ research suggests that, rather than leaving the development of innovation to serendipity, executives should create collaborative contexts where innovation is likely to emerge from unpredictable pockets of creativity within an organization. By understanding and tapping the power of employee networks, executives can stimulate the creation of these kinds of collaborative environments.

Developing Innovative Solutions Through Internal Crowdsourcing

Internal crowdsourcing, which seeks to channel the ideas and expertise of the company’s own employees, allows employees to interact dynamically with coworkers in other locations, propose new ideas, and suggest new directions to management. Because many large companies have pockets of expertise and knowledge scattered across different locations, harnessing the cognitive diversity within organizations can open up rich new sources of innovation.

What Email Reveals About Your Organization

By studying data from email archives and other sources, managers can gain surprising insights about how groups should be organized and about which communications patterns are most successful. Anonymized analysis of internal information communication found that creative people, for instance, work more productively on projects with strong leaders than on collaborations without a clear leader. In addition, in many situations, groups of leaders taking turns worked better at sparking creativity.

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The Unexpected Payoffs of Employee “Eavesdropping”

In an experiment with social media, researchers uncovered an interesting and unexpected outcome. When employees were asked if using an internal social network had helped them learn about coworkers’ skills, they all said “No” — yet their ability to identify coworkers who could help in collaborative projects had skyrocketed (as had their performance). How was this possible? The answer: employees had acquired information so incrementally, they were unaware that they’d learned something of value.

Designing Effective Knowledge Networks

In today’s interconnected world, networks for sharing knowledge are important. Authors Katrina Pugh of Columbia University, and Laurence Prusak, coauthor of the book Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know, write that by paying careful attention to eight dimensions of network design, leaders of knowledge networks can facilitate desired behaviors and outcomes.

The 2013 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

The editors of MIT Sloan Management Review announce the winners of the 2013 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize, awarded to the authors of the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development published from fall 2011 to summer 2012. The Winners: Eoin Whelan, Salvatore Parise, Jasper de Valk and Rick Aalbers, authors of “Creating Employee Networks That Deliver Open Innovation.”

GE’s Colab Brings Good Things to the Company

Ron Utterbeck, the CIO for GE Corporate and the Advanced Manufacturing Software Technology Center in Michigan was vital in getting GE to implement its social network. The Facebook-like network built in-house is called GE Colab and links up the firm’s 115,000 employees from around the globe. The network has been breaking down corporate silos, helping problems get solved quicker, aiding employees better find internal experts, and making it easier to share files and documents in a meaningful context.

Nilofer Merchant

How Social Tools Can Help Your Company Avoid Strategic Failure

Although most companies think “social media” when they hear the word social, author, consultant and business executive Nilofer Merchant says firms need to expand their understanding, and think about the transformative ways social tools change how an enterprise operates. Among the fundamental ways social technologies alter companies include removing bottlenecks in decision making, freeing work from jobs; leveraging customers as co-creators; and getting customers to engage around a shared value.

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The Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

The editors of MIT Sloan Management Review are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize, awarded to the authors of the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development published from fall 2010 to summer 2011.

Marissa Mayer's Skills as an "Idea Connector"

  • Blog
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Google VP Marissa Mayer exemplifies the key traits of an idea connector, a person who links up idea scouts who have limited internal company networks with R&D engineers and others. One mechanism she uses: she holds three weekly sessions where she is accessible to all Google employees who want to pitch a new idea.

Image courtesy of Flickr user marcusnelson.

Creating Employee Networks That Deliver Open Innovation

Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Cisco Systems, Genzyme, General Electric and Intel are often credited with having attained market leadership through open innovation strategies. By tapping into and exploiting the technological knowledge residing beyond their own R&D structures, these companies outmaneuvered rivals. But while other organizations try to follow their example, many are failing because they neglect to ensure that the outside ideas reach the people best equipped to exploit them.

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The Collaborative Organization: How to Make Employee Networks Really Work

CIOs who learn to balance formal and informal structures can create global IT organizations that are more efficient and innovative than organizations that rely primarily on formal mechanisms. Organizational network analysis provides a useful methodology for helping executives assess broader patterns of informal networks between individuals, teams, functions and organizations, and for identifying targeted steps to align networks with strategic imperatives.

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